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wonders never cease Friday, June 25, 2010

FRIDAY, JUNE 25th, 2010play list of the week: 20 songs for 20 great years.

SgtPep[1]It was 20 years ago today, Anna Fuhrman brought the shop to stay. It's been going in and out of style, but it's guaranteed to raise a smile. So let me introduce to you, the one and only Proper Topper... It doesn't seem like 20 years has gone by since the first Proper Topper opened in the west hall of Union Station. Unless you start to look at the styles and popular songs of the time, then it seems like eons have passed. 1990 was a banner year for sports anthems, with notable hits Pump Up The Jam by Technotronic, Unbelievable by EMF, Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J, and one or two of the songs below that have become fixtures in sports stadiums and arenas coast to coast. Marcia Griffith blessed wedding DJ's and line dancers everywhere with her hit Electric Boogie, Madonna taught us all to Vogue, and rappers Digital Underground unleashed the Humpty Dance. Fellow rappers 2 Live Crew were arrested on obscenity charges at the order of Florida Governor Bob Martinez. They proceeded to release an album that included the remarkably unambiguous response "F#*k Martinez." Fight the power, indeed. We have chosen to stay away from anthems, themes, dances and crazes and have gathered the music we actually enjoyed that year, which means there will be no Vanilla Ice or Milli Vanilli, but you may get a little "hammer time" before the list is through. Happy 20th Anniversary, Proper Topper. One more year and you can throw out that terrible fake ID you've been using.

1. Ana - The Pixies
This track from Bossanova seems like a fitting opening to our list in tribute to our fearless leader, the bold young lady who walked away from her law career to follow her dreams and bring finery to the people of our fair city.

2. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
The pope bashing Irish lass turns Prince's lyrics into spun gold on the year's top hit, launching her mainstream success and providing her a platform from which to lob bricks at the Vatican and her dead mother.

3. Kinky Afro - Happy Mondays
A number one hit for these Manchester rave pioneers, and a cornerstone for the acid house rave movement. Not a great hair style for an up-&-coming hat store, but we support it nevertheless.

4. Story of My Life - Social Distortion
Mike Ness and company touch a nerve with this homage to youth, looking back wistfully at missed opportunities and how quickly they passed. It's easy to picture Ness as the quiet guy in the back of the room who might turn out to be the lead singer in a successful rock band or do some time in jail, or, in Mike's case, both.

5. Summer in Siam - The Pogues
From Hell's Ditch, the fifth Pogues album, produced by The Clash's Joe Strummer, who later served as a temporary replacement forthe ever unreliable Shane MacGowan when the band went on tour.

6. Joey - Concrete Blonde
The biggest hit for the trio named by label mate Michael Stipe of REM and fronted by the newly Goth Johnette Napolitano.

7. Fight The Power - Public Enemy
A seminal track from one of 1990's best albums, Chuck D lights the fuse for the politicization of rap and hip hop. May we be so bold as to guess that this might be the first playlist to transition from PE to Garth Brooks?

8. Friends In Low Places - Garth Brooks
The first single from the second album for Oklahoma native Troyal Garth Brooks, this blue-collar anthem became his signature song and launched him into the limelight, for better or for worse.

9. Groovy Train - The Farm
Another hit for the house music movement underway in Northern England, this jam was produced by Graham "Suggs" McPherson of Madness.

10. Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
Two Johns break through with this hit from 1990's brilliant Flood. If you have some free time on your hands, check the literal video version on YouTube. Even as they're reaching the masses, they remember to have fun.

11. Born At the Right Time - Paul Simon
Simon broadens his influences even wider than on 1986's Graceland and embraces music from around the world, including samba and afro cuban drumming.

12. Your Time Is Gonna Come - Dread Zeppelin
From Un-Led-Ed, spearheaded by a 300-pound Elvis impersonator named "Tortelvis" and released to a skeptical public, the album became a sensation on the strength of glowing reviews and a public endorsement by Led Zeppelin vocalist, Robert Plant, who claimed he preferred Dread Zep's version of this classic to Led Zeppelin's original.

13. No Depression - Uncle Tupelo
Groundbreaking Y'allternative heroes lighten the mood with a prescient theme for today's economic uncertainty.

14. Hard To Handle - Black Crowes
Eternally feuding Robinson brothers put it together on this Otis Redding cover, which isn't easy because there was only one Otis Redding and he was hard to handle.

15. Merchandise - Fugazi
DC heroes rail against business just as we open our business. While they have a good point, and you are not what you own, that doesn't mean that you don't deserve nice things.

16. Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction
C'mon, how many retail businesses would list a song about the thrills of shoplifting? We're killing ourselves here people.

17. Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore - John Prine
Just one of the many great songs from Prine's self-titled 1990 release, the best album that nobody bought in 1990. This album may be the masterpiece from one of the best songwriters of our time,, and if you haven't picked it up by now, you should do so at the first opportunity.

18. I'm Free - The Soup Dragons
Scottish Rockers take a Stones throwaway, overdub Reggae star Junior Reid, and manage to score a hit in the rave scene.

19. U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Oh, how we wish we could say that no one showed up to the Proper Topper Inaugural party in Hammer pants. At least we don't remember anyone sporting the Vanilla Ice fade.

20. Here's Where The Story Ends - The Sundays
For the play list, not the business. Rock on Proper Topper. Here's to your next twenty years.


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